An angel among us
By JEFF GATES
For The Madison Press
Savannah Wilson is a warrior.
Throughout her young life, Wilson has endured dozens of surgeries to address the many medical issues she has — some that have been present since her birth 24 years ago.
Instead of focusing on her own painful difficulties, Wilson decided to be a calming voice and sweet smile for those who were on the brink of surgery by volunteering for many years at Madison County Hospital. She recently had to stop that due to the severity of her own health concerns.
In the past, she has been honored by Madison County Hospital with the Jean Smith Award for accumulating the most volunteer hours in one year.
“She recently had to stop working due to her health, and that has been harder on her than four open-heart surgeries, five strokes or 27 heart catherizations,” said her mother Jean Hughes. “She doesn’t understand her tough situations because she has had to fight for every day.”
Wilson was born with a congenital heart disease called Tricuspid Atresia, and has faced several complications along the way. She continues to try and conquer those odds on an on-going basis.
Although diminutive in size, Wilson is strong in spirit. Despite enduring through many medical concerns, she is like a whirling dervish on the court for the Madison County Tigers Special Olympics basketball team. Wilson is served by the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
It is usually a family affair as Wilson’s sister Samarah occasionally referees the games, while her mother and stepfather Phil cheer loudly from the stands. Wilson also participates in track and bowling.
“We are honored to be a part of Special Olympics to have been so blessed to meet every one of her teammates, their families, and all the staff,” Hughes said. “She loves being a part of those that make up the team.”
But recently, Wilson has grown weaker due to her heart issues and is unable to continue playing, or even attending, basketball games for the Tigers.
“Savannah is currently in Hospice care and her time here is short,” Hughes said. “Savannah is dealing with the reality of losing this life-long battle.”
But as she has done in almost every situation in her life, Wilson has thought of others first. When it became apparent that her long hair would be increasingly more difficult to maintain and had to be cut due to her weakening condition, she responded the only way she knew how.
“She said she wanted to give her hair to a kid with cancer,” Hughes said of her remarkable daughter. “Savannah doesn’t understand how special she is because she thinks everyone should help others.”
On Dec. 10, Wilson got her hair cut at Eva Marie’s Salon in London by her long-time hair stylist Dawn Ferguson. Her hair will be donated to “Wigs for Kids,” an organization designed to help children cope with losing their hair due to cancer treatments.
So, as Wilson faces her most difficult days, she continues to be a sweet spirit that touches people’s lives in a positive way.
“It is unbelievable that one little girl with a broken heart can fill so many others’ hearts,” Hughes said. “Her arms have wrapped this community for years.”